North Wales Recommendations Please

I early October I would like to visit North Wales, somewhere I have never been despite spending half my life in the UK (I am US based now). I plan to have five full days there, based somewhere close to Llandudno or Cowyn. So I wondered if anyone would be so kind as to recommend some side trips from that area.

I enjoy walking and moderate hiking, landscape photography, and I am fine with travel to places by train or bus (no car).

Thanks so much!


North Wales has quite a few interesting railways that you might like to have a look at, or even ride on -

Great Little Trains of Wales

I would personally recommend both the Ffestiniog Railway and Welsh Highland Railways.

(I am a member & shareholder of the FR)



Beddgelert is a very pretty little place on the river. Great for walks, pub and nice ice cream shop.


I would go to Llanberis and climb Snowden up the standard path which is very hard to get lost on Unless the visibility is extremely bad and the weather too.


This train / bus map from may give some guidance.
While the train from Birmingham, including the airport, reaches all the way to Pwllheli in the north, with great views for much of the journey, though it is largely single track and takes a good few hours and not an hourly service. I’m not familiar with the lines west of Chester.

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Suggest you include a walk around “the great orme” in Llandudno one day, then a walk to the centre another day


Come and visit Denbigh Castle! Alwen and Llyn Brenig are also great for walks of various difficulty.

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In North Wales on holiday at the moment, staying at Trawsfynydd.

We’ve been to and can recommend;

  • Slate Caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Snowden Mountain Railway at Llanberis
  • Sygun Copper Mine at Beddgelert
  • Plenty of places to hire a bike and plenty of bike trails. Two places we liked: Coed Y Brenin and The Mawddach Trail

Hope this helps.



A schoolfriend of mine made a film using a camera strapped to the front of the B’ham to North Wales train:


Otherwise engaged at present but I’m from North Wales and have some recommendations I’ve yet to see on this thread.

If you’re starting North West then the best base would be around Caernarfon. Also one of the best places to eat.

Other suggestions to come.

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Thank you so much for your generosity by helping me with your suggestions. Please keep them coming if you have more ideas. I have begun looking into some of your suggestions and will probably have more questions.

Thanks again


I have just returned from my annual mini-break to North Wales.

You could try Betws-y-Coed, it’s easily accessible by direct train from Llandudno. A couple of lakes either side of the town, each a 30 minute walk up a hill. Also a river running through woods and walkable to Swallow Falls. Should be some photo opportunities. Blaenau Ffestiniog is nearby by train.

If you want to hike up Snowdon, then the Llanberis Path is fine and technically the easiest but it is rather long, starting at the bottom of the valley. Perhaps the best route is up the Pyg Track from Pen-y-Pass, returning via the Miners Track. Lots of variety and great views above the lakes inside the horseshoe-shaped mountain range. There’s a Sherpa bus that runs round the mountain (I don’t know if it is seasonal), so access to any start point should be possible.

The Orme peninsular has been mentioned. There is a tram that goes to the top with a halfway stop off point.


The coastline of Anglesey and the Menai Strait are lovely. You may also see a Red Squirrel if you read up on where to look.


If you have a dog pop into the pet cemetery at Holywell (seriously!). My mate owns it, great cafe and lovely walks/views over the estuary.


First quick recommend then, beyond my initial suggestion of locating in Caernarfon rather than the very dull Llandudno (although I suppose you could go find the former Nazi HQ there), would be to have a look at the North Wales edition of the Liverpool Daily Post or more likely the Twitter account of Mark Williams @MarkW06. Has spent years doing food and drink reviews of the eateries of Wales and you can absolutely rely on his judgement re: both. Cafes, restaurants, coffee shops. He covers everything.

He used to play in Emily who were an early Creation Records signing and he also has exemplary music taste. We have had many a discussion about The Fall, the Pop Group, Nick Cave and more.

Note also that many of his recommends are ones he’s accessed by cycle or on foot so he’s a great person to talk to about hiking routes also. Nice as the Great Orme is, it’s not really the best or most dramatic of North Wales. For that I’d head to Ynys Mon and look at the many walking routes around the island. You have great views of the mainland but also real access to a remarkable amount of wildlife you may not easily see elsewhere.

I would recommend against both Snowdon and Port Meirion in October. The former will not be welcoming and the latter will largely be shut for business. I would echo the railways suggestion and also that for where there’s a surprising amount to see bar the obvious grave. The two interests can be combined and you can add in your landscape photography as you’ll not find a moodier area in the rain. The worse the day the better it gets for photography. Nice as the Ffestiniog is, try the Welsh Highland railway to get to/from Beddgelert. In October take your own food and drink as you’ll be needing it. By all means also do the slate caverns at Ffestiniog. You’ll do well to get a poor photograph in that area.

In passing you may want to take an interest in Bragdy Cybi brewery or indeed the Anglesey Brewhouse. Get your timings night and Conwy Folk Club is a lovely cosy night out too. I quite like the walk down the mountains and then over to the isisnd via the brewery. There are few finer ends to a hike.

At the other end of the coast one of course has the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct and there’s a fine walk to be had around there too. Tis but a small hop to the wonders of Llangollen.

I would of course suggest a trip up Moel Famau if the weather is good and, again, many unheralded walks around there with some utterly fabulous old pubs.

The other alternative to the above is Dolgellau. Great food but also stunning views on the Mawddach river valley and Llyn Cynwch. That’s before we mention Cader Idris.

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I wouldn’t be so dogmatic about Snowdon. All mountains demand respect at all times. If plans are flexible and hikers are suitably experienced and equipped, then it can be a good time to go. Autumn colours can create landscape interest and it is not essential to reach the summit in order to have a great experience.

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Is “recommend against” “dogmatic”? At the risk of being pedantic is recommending something positively not equally so?

I would think “don’t under any circumstances” would be the latter. OP asked us to recommend. That is one of the things I recommend.

FWIW my cousin works an air ambulance in that area. October is the single worst month of the year for incidents. They’re generally up by around 75% on the preceding 3 months. 90% of them are tourists from over the border. Most are people who considered themselves to be experts.

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It was more the “former will not be welcoming” that I felt sounded like a strong “no”.

The time of year is only one of the factors to consider. Weather is more likely to be unsettled in October, so it is fair to give warning about any high level hiking.

We know little of the OP’s hiking experience, nor that of his party, nor the specific timings so I would just leave it for the OP to judge.

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That’s what a recommendation is surely?

“Here is my view. What you do next is your call.”

That said, anyone who has done Snowdon in October will be aware that it’s not welcoming in multiple ways from parking through to shops and weather.

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